MEMORY MANINGA, Lusaka
DECEMBER usually comes with the joy of celebrating Christmas.
During this period, Christians celebrate and reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ by singing Christmas hymns and showcasing nativity plays depicting what took place when Christ was born.
Although the exact date of Christ’s birth is not known, December 25 is the day when the world celebrates God’s gift to humanity of Jesus Christ the Saviour.
Christians and non-Christians alike celebrate Christmas by way of mass shopping, partying and consumption of alcohol, of course with Christ being out of the picture for many celebrants.
In other words, Christmas is celebrated in many ways by all merry-makers – some people prepare special meals for family and friends, others want to eat out and others still, it’s time to travel for holiday out-of-town or abroad.
The festive season also creates the mood for the exchange of gifts and children are normally the luckiest to receive Christmas gifts from parents and guardians.
Partying in nightclubs is a common feature of Christmas celebrations, though devout Christians feel this is a wrong way of celebrating Christ’s birth.
In the past Christmas celebrations were done in church through different activities, but over time, celebrations have taken a new twist.
Money-making ventures and partying have taken away the true spirit of Christmas.
For example, for the business community, Christmas is the period to rake in more money. Chain stores are running promotions and selling goods on discount to attract customers.
“It has always been like differentlythis, things become much more affordable during the festive period; every chain store is running a promotion and prices of commodities are slashed.
“Talk of food, groceries, electric appliances and other stuff; you get to buy them at a much cheaper price. That’s why there are unending queues in the shops because everybody wants to buy something,” Naomi Mwape said during an interview at Mandal Hill.
Catholic priest Singini Nacidze of Mary Emaculate Parish in Lusaka, says the commercialisation of Christmas is not good because the event could eventually lose its meaning if people continue focusing on self-gratification.
Father Nacidze said it is unfortunate that society has turned Christmas into a commercial activity.
“Christmas has been commercialised on a very large scale these days. People see it as a business opportunity. If this continues, the significance of Christmas will soon be forgotten.
“Christmas is a spiritual event and should not be perceived as a commercial event like many people do nowadays. It is important therefore that this day is celebrated in the right manner, going by what the Bible says.
“We have to remember that for Christ to die for our sins, he had to take the form of man, he suffered and endured a lot on our behalf. Therefore, Christmas for a Christian should be a time of renewal and reflection on the love of God for human kind,” Fr Nacidze said.
He, however, said there is nothing wrong with exchanging gifts and spending time with family and friends during the festivities as the practice is symbolic of the Christian unity.
The prelate said it is important for people to reflect on God’s love during the Christmas period and also take time to demonstrate Christ’s love to the needy and vulnerable in society.
“There is nothing wrong with spending time with family and friends and exchanging gifts with them during this period. We must, as Christians, accommodate the vulnerable in society through giving as we remember that Christ is love and he loves all humanity,” Fr Nacidze said.
While others take the Biblical aspect of Christmas seriously, others celebrate it anyway without regard of its historical significance.
In a random interview, Mary M’hango, a Lusaka resident shares about how she will spend her Christmas. “There will be a mass at my church on Christmas Eve and I plan to attend it. As a Christian, I respect Christmas and I will celebrate it correctly”.
Erick Daka, another Lusaka resident has a different opinion.
“I think we all know that 25th December is not the actual day that Christ was born. It is only a day that was picked to commemorate his birth which we all know took place. As for me, whether I go to church or not, I will still celebrate in my own way because I believe Christmas is everyday,” he said.
Interestingly, even atheists celebrate Christmas despite not believing in Jesus Christ.
An American atheist once said there is nothing wrong with a non-believer celebrating Christmas as long as it is in line with the moral standing of the community they live in.
“Many people ask me why I celebrate Christmas when am actually an atheists…You see, the goodness with we atheists is that in as much we are not bound to ideologies, we are obligated to follow the laws of the land we live in, we live by the moral standards of a given community as long as long as the standards are decent and good.
“Christmas unites families and friends and so there is nothing wrong with we atheists taking part in the celebrations,” he said in a blog.